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Healing Factor / Literature

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Healing Factors in literature.

  • This actually seems to be pretty common in books by Brandon Sanderson.
    • Mistwraiths and some Allomancers in the Mistborn books both have rapid healing. Mistwraiths because they can simply alter their body mass into muscle or other kinds of tissue (though they can't create or repair bone), while any Allomancer that can "burn" pewter will gain super-human healing (though we're talking a week or two to recover from a should-be-fatal cut, not regrowing arms in minutes) in addition to the other benefits it provides.
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    • The Inquisitors and especially the Lord Ruler have this even moreso. Inquisitors can regenerate from almost any injury, though it takes up a lot of their energy, while the Lord Ruler has been at various points in his Backstory shot, stabbed, decapitated, burned alive, and flayed. He shrugged off all of them in minutes, with no significant harm done. Word of God is The Lord Ruler wasn't fully decapitated - he only had his neck chopped about three-quarters of the way through. Similarly, when he was burned alive, only the outer layer of skin and muscle was burned. If he had been completely decapitated or burned down to the bone, he would have been killed, but considering how powerful he is as a combatant, this is a lot easier said than done.
    • Feruchemists can save up their health in "goldminds" (feeling horribly sick the whole time) then splurge it all in one burst of incredibly fast regeneration. The Inquisitors' and the Lord Ruler's even-faster healing comes from their ability to combine Mistborn and Feruchemical talents.
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    • Miles in The Alloy of Law manages the most impressive one. His healing factor is so powerful, he shoots himself in the face with a shotgun just to show off. Repeatedly. Without being even temporarily incapacitated. While possessing no other superhuman powers. It's noted he carries around sticks of dynamite to alleviate his one weakness - that, as he possesses no other superhuman powers, he can be disabled pretty well by tying him up - although you need either well designed nets or several men to do so, because his healing factor still makes him deadly in hand-to-hand. To get around this, he simply takes the dynamite out and blows himself up, destroying the netting in the process. He doesn't really care because his healing factor has been going so long he can't actually feel pain any more. His is so powerful that even when completely deprived of the very gold he uses to power it, it still takes a firing squad four entire volleys to actually kill him because he kept healing.
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    • Surgebinders in The Stormlight Archive heal much faster, can regrow amputated limbs, and generally cannot be killed except by a Shardblade, at least until they run out of Stormlight. One character takes a crossbow bolt to the head, heals around it and continues functioning somewhat normally for a bit, then pulls it out to heal properly.
    • In Elantris Both Elantrians and Dakhor heal somewhat faster than humans.
    • These all share a specific quirk, however: They won't heal any ailments which agree with one's self-image. If you see yourself as a eunuch, your equipment won't grow back. If you see yourself as bald, your hair won't grow back. If you require glasses, your eyes won't heal unless you want them to. This is a plot point in Words of Radiance, when Kaladin can't get his Slave Brand tattooed into something less dangerous to his well-being because of his emotional baggage.
    • In The Reckoners Trilogy, Limelight gets a powerful healing factor as one of his Epic abilities.

  • In Adaptation by Malinda Lo, after her operation Reese's scars disappear faster than they should because the operation was performed by aliens with accelerated healing trying to "upgrade" human DNA to give humans their abilities.
  • The shieldwatch in Aeon Legion: Labyrinth can roll back time to when its user was not injured. Its main limitation is that if the user's spine or brain is damaged, then they will lose their memory once restored.
  • The Age of the Five: Mirar, one of the Wilds. He gained immortality through his great knowledge of healing magic. This even allowed him to survive being crushed under the rubble of a collapsed building, as he used his healing magic to keep his brain and vital organs alive whilst his body repaired itself.
  • In the Alterien series, the Alteriens can regenerate damaged tissue and bone from severe injuries.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Animorphs. Even though they're normal kids, the Andalite morphing technology they've been given is based on DNA. If they're injured while in morph, all they need to do is demorph to human and their injuries will be gone. Likewise, if they're injured while human, they just need to morph and then demorph to have a perfect DNA-based body again. No injury, no matter how serious, will kill them unless it kills them instantly. As long as they're still alive and conscious after the injury, they can recover. If they miss their two hour time limit in morph, all bets are off, because after two hours, Mode Lock takes place, and you won't be turning back into a human ever again.
    • In later books, this is the major argument that allows them to recruit kids with permanent injuries, with the kids eulting in mobility they thought they'd never find again.
    • The Hork-Bajir can heal extreme wounds very fast, such as when Dak Hammee cuts his own head open, shows his brain to the Animorphs, and is able to close the wound simply by pressing the two sides of his cut flesh together. It's not like he isn't hurt from it, but it was clear that the injury was far from lethal, and a scar forms over the cut in moments.
    • Three books had injuries that couldn't be healed by morphing: one due to Time Travel, another completely unexplained (the book possibly involved Mental Time Travel), and one with a genetic disease (that remains when the morpher returns to normal) and an Andalite allergic to the morphing process, meaning his missing tail stayed missing.
  • The high spirits of Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn series can quickly recover from psychic wounds inflicted by astral weapons.
  • The protagonist of the abominable Baldur's Gate novelisations, Abdel Adrian, gets this in the second book. Due to his divine blood, his injuries will simply heal after a while, even when bits come off. This mainly serves to counterbalance the fact that, even though he's an awful Canon Sue, he kind of sucks at fighting. Also, it increases the gorn potential by letting him be sliced up too.
  • Averted, and possibly inverted, in The Belgariad, where the gods have no healing ability whatsoever because they're normally invincible and have no need of it. Meaning that when the Big Bad Torak is badly maimed, his injuries, consisting of horrible burns and a destroyed eye, remain exactly the same as when Torak received them, pain and all, even after thousands of years.
  • Dragons in Birthright (2017) are able to use shapeshifting magic to manually patch up any injury that doesn't kill them outright.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones, or at least Cthulhu, have this form of immortality. In "The Call of Cthulhu", Cthulhu gets a boat driven through his skull, turning his head into green paste. It reforms instantly. In writings of one of the later mythos writers, he's also gotten vaporized by a nuclear strike, only to reform himself. According to some writers, they can be killed by another Great Old One (or other godlike entity) while other sources state that they are completely unkillable.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci series, nine-lived enchanters can recover from mortal injuries such as a broken neck or 100% burns, but only eight times, and it does indeed make them very hungry.
  • Corwin, and by extension, the rest of the Amberites and Chaosites in The Chronicles of Amber. As he says, "I heal faster and better than anyone I know." Notably, this isn't instantaneous, but it is still accelerated compared to normal humans, and is considerably better. At one point, Corwin regenerates his eyes that were burned out of his head with branding irons, even recovering the optic nerves. It takes a few years, but he makes a full recovery. He and Benedict speculate that Benedict, who has lost an arm, will regrow it given enough time.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, the Kencyr peoples have impressive healing abilities, although much of it requires dwar sleep, a hibernation-like mode of deep, restorative sleep which can, for severe injuries, last for weeks. Jame, the protagonist, sleeps for thirteen days after she arrives in Tai-tastigon with severely infected haunt bites (haunts being essentially zombies); her healing astonishes the human healer who tends to her. Kencyr can also regenerate lost teeth, and through dwar sleep can recuperate from punishing speeds on foot, allowing their armies to cover ground at a sustained rate much faster than human armies can attain.
  • Cradle Series: Even the lowest of sacred artists can improve their healing ability by cycling madra through their body, but it gets really impressive at the Iron level. At that point, anything that doesn't kill you can be healed—and it takes a lot to kill you. Eithan intentionally gives Lindon an overpowered Bloodforged Iron body, which has an even higher healing factor, to the point that he can be back at full capacity in hours after a near-lethal wound.
  • Dark Shores: Healers marked by Hegeria, heal faster than other people—that is, unless they spend too much of themselves healing others. And the corrupted, marked by the Seventh god, are these Up to Eleven, as the life they have stolen from others allows them to heal even deadly injuries.
  • In Damon Knight's novella Dio or The Dying Man, humanity has genetically engineered itself into drop-dead-gorgeous immortality. Regeneration is part of the package — injuries hurt, and you try to avoid them, but you're okay. It's when the lead character has this fail on him — along with suddenly losing the ability to levitate, that he knows something's really wrong.
  • On the Disc, werewolves have this unless the injury is inflicted through either silver or fire. Unfortunately, in The Fifth Elephant, the former is practically nonexistent in Überwald...
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: As the Eighth Doctor Adventures are a bit Bloodier and Gorier than the TV series, it's much more evident that the Doctor has a certain degree of this ability in the novels than it is on TV. The Doctor regrows a tooth at one point. He walks on a severely broken leg, is severely stabbed, gets shot full of buckshot, has one of his hearts ripped out, etc., and always gets better with a minimum of fuss and no medical attention.
  • The Dresden Files: Wizards have a slight healing factor, which allows them to live for centuries and heal any injury perfectly and without scarring. Harry notes at one point that, given the abuse he's faced over the years, he'd be facing the kind of constant aches and pains a retired football player does if not for his healing factor. They don't heal injuries any faster than a normal human would, though, and any physical trauma that would kill a normal will kill a wizard.
    • Best shown when a nasty encounter with a flamethrower in Blood Rites left Harry's hand char-broiled. He eventually regained use of it, but only after a year or two (several books) of recuperating and physical therapy. Even then, it's going to be a while before it completely heals. In Skin Game, which takes place ten years later, his hand still looks like melted wax.
  • The Dullahans in Durarara!!, set in the same world as the above example also appear to regenerate their wounds, though it takes longer for them to heal. It's unclear whether it's possible to wound one badly enough to kill them permanently, but this doesn't seem to be the case.
  • Killing an engineered in Duumvirate is a matter of either inflicting direct brain damage or making them lose enough blood. Their regeneration isn't what makes this difficult, however...
  • The main characters in Eden Green are infected with an alien needle symbiote that keeps them alive no matter what.
  • In Octavia Butler's Fledgling, the protagonist recovers from being caught in a burning building—it's implied that she had severe head injuries and was blind at the start. At the end of the process, she's fine except for the amnesia, but she needs fresh meat as soon as possible, and is too hungry to notice where it comes from. It's one of her brother's human friends, who was there trying to find and rescue her.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 6 (The Bones of Haven), Johnny Nobody, one of the prisoners in the Hell Wing (reserved for inhuman monsters), is cursed with one that won't let him die. Even being torn apart by the monster from Messerschmann's Portrait won't kill him, as his body's seen knitting itself back together afterward; it's uncertain if being eaten by the monster Crawling Jenny (which subsequently got destroyed by a magical incendiary, actually a frozen moment in time from an exploding volcano) actually killed him or not.
  • Robin from The Girl from the Miracles District discovers at one point that he can heal incredibly quickly from what should be mortal injuries, to surprise of everyone involved.
  • In The Girl Who Would Be King, Bonnie and Lola both have a healing factor, though they are initially unsure of exactly how strong it is — while Lola is able to heal a bullet wound to the leg, she wonders whether she'd be able to recover from a bullet to the head. They later discover it extends to the point of Resurrective Immortality.
  • Humanity as whole possesses this in Robert Reed's Great Ship universe. Artificial emergency genes and massive amounts of genetic engineering allow the body to recycle wastes and such very efficiently, and it can re-purpose mass to be used for other things - chop off someone's arm, and the emergency genes break down the appendix and some less used muscles to regrow it in a few days or weeks.
  • Honor Harrington has both quick-heal, which simply massively speeds up normal healing, and regeneration therapies, which can regrow limbs and other things within a matter of weeks, though it simply doesn't work on a sizable percentage of people, including the main character.
  • Atticus O'Sullivan of the Iron Druid books can regenerate almost any injury ... as long as his bare skin is in contact with soil.
  • Lilith's Brood: The alien Oankali have the innate ability to perform genetic manipulation and microsurgery, which they can use on themselves to regenerate almost any injury. Minor injuries heal subconsciously, but major ones might require the Oankali's concentration. They're quite thrilled to get samples of human cancer cells, because they're able to reverse-engineer them into a means of even regenerating lost limbs.
  • Lucy from Lucy's Blade has this, as does anyone who is possessed by Lilith, which means they can't even get sick. But it isn't that super human - a seriously bad wound could still kill them because there is only so much energy Lilith has and is able to pump through a mortal body without killing her friend.
  • Immortals and Marra in The Madness Season can both heal themselves of injuries that would otherwise be fatal, so long as they, respectively, have enough blood or life force to spare.
  • Mask 2020: In the Infinity Trinity's first battle with Side-Splitter, Josie, as Emerald Shield, get hid by an explosive, causing her leg to bend at an odd angle. After all the fighting is done, however, when arguing over which of them will take Josie to a doctor, she reveals that her leg doesn't hurt anymore. She then remembers the woodpecker with the hurt wing that somehow healed earlier, and comes to the conclusion that this is a previously unknown superpower she has.
  • Several characters in the Mediochre Q Seth Series have this to varying degrees. Dragons have it as a race trait - which kinda makes sense; they are reptiles after all - and Mediochre himself has it to such an insane degree due to the blood of a dragon being magically bonded with his own in backstory that he can't age past puberty. In the first book, his Arch-Enemy Maelstrom has survived this long by repeatedly granting himself a temporary one by using dragon's blood as a sort-of Healing Potion, which is not how it works with real reptiles, but, y'know, magic. Dhampinella's reaction to being shot also seems to imply that Dhampir (and presumably Vampires) have a better healing factor than humans, although clearly not as good as that of dragons.
  • Elizabeth Moon seems to consider this as standard medical technology. Both Familias Regnant (Kevil Mahoney) and Vatta's War (Aunt Grace) fully recover missing limbs. Averted in that the technology can repair almost anything short of death (Barin Serrano), but it takes time to fully recover: Aunt Grace's re-grown arm horrified/fascinated her niece and nephew because it started off looking like a child's arm before growing full sized, and Grace had to go through lots of exercise to bring it up to full functionality.
  • The title villain from Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz has this, though played a lot more realistically than most. He can heal even severe injuries, and much more quickly than a normal person, but he requires a lot of food to fuel the repairs. And if he doesn't have enough, his body will start cannibalizing itself to keep the healing going.
  • My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister:
    • Vampires can rapidly regenerate from any injury (unless it's to their heart or their entire body is burned).
    • To a lesser extent, witches can create potions that accelerate healing. However, this still requires a few hours, and particularly-severe injuries (like broken ribs) seem to take longer to heal.
  • Werewolves and other shapeshifters have this in Newshound. It comes as a necessary consequence of shapeshifting, and is fast enough to make werewolves effectively Immune to Bullets.
  • The angels in Paradise Lost are described as having this, and "[c]annot but by annihilating die." This becomes an instance of And I Must Scream when the rebellious angels are cast into the lake of fire.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, symbionts can heal from nearly anything that doesn't destroy their head.
  • In the Parrish Plessis series, one of the abilities granted by The Corruption is enhanced healing. The effects aren't too extreme; the infected can still be killed by mundane means, and still need a while to recover from severe injuries like broken bones. It is, however, quite good at dealing with toxins, which lead some well-intentioned people to start spreading it around as a cure for the pervasive heavy metal poisoning in their slum. Then the others side-effects of infection began to appear...
  • Lanik Mueller from A Planet Called Treason comes from a family who achieved a Healing Factor through generations of genetic modifications. It takes a lot to kill a Mueller. (They routinely cut off each other's fingers and pry out eyes in childhood squabbles.) Puberty is kind of spectacular in them: In their teenage years, their healing factor gets somewhat out of control and they constantly grow many redundant body parts. Their body stabilizes once they reach maturity... except for the "radical regeneratives" whose healing factor remains out of control permanently. Such poor souls lose all rights and are treated as cattle from which organs are harvested for trade.
    • Halfway through the book, Lanik's body is so gruesomely destroyed that the healing factor malfunctions spectacularly and accidentally regenerates his loose innards into a living conjoined twin. When Lanik recovers from feverishness enough to realize what has happened, he cuts off the twin and kills him in panic... but the twin has the healing factor too, so it regenerates and becomes Lanik's Evil Twin.
  • Cormac limbs from The Saga of Darren Shan has the ability to regain lost body parts, when you cut off his head, two smaller heads appear. The guy who decapitated him was suitably freaked out.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Lifebinders can regenerate from nearly any damage shy of losing their head as long as they have access to enough Light, with even severed limbs only slowing them down a bit.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire actually features this trope, albeit mostly downplayed. Except in the case of the giants: in Westetosi myths, they're known to be incredibly difficult to take down because of their renowned ability to heal, not just because of their size. This turns out to be one of the few myths about them that's more or less true, although their regenerative ability isn't as great as legend would have it be.
    • Speaking of large individuals; five human characters in the books turn out to be a darned sight tougher than they by all rights should be, surviving things like frostbite, horrific burns, poisons and horrific physical abuse that... really should knock them over and out quite quickly, if not outright kill them. Sure, they're not impossible to scar, maim or kill. Yet, they generally keep on ticking way beyond reason and pain thresholds, the poor buggers. Hodor, the two Clegane brothers, Brienne of Tarth and the historical Ser Duncan the Tall may or may not have some giant in their respective family trees.
  • Shades of Magic: Antari heal from injuries more quickly than other people.
  • In The Sirantha Jax Series and (more centrally) the Dred Chronicles, Jael has the ability to recover from serious injuries quite quickly. This becomes useful not just to himself but to Dred (the protagonist of the latter series), thanks to blood transfusion after she's injured.
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps:
    • Captain, being a demigod, heals injuries others would suffer from for weeks within days or even hours, and they don't leave scars behind at all. During their stay at Mother of Waters, he comes out of the Fighthouse victorious, but also limping, bloody to the bone in places and with one eye swollen shut. By evening of the next day, only some scabs are left over from that.
    • Demane, also a demigod, also heals faster from injuries than normal people, although he remarks how his healing factor is nowhere near as good as Captain's.
  • The Undying from the Tale of the Unwithering Realm setting are all immortal, and can heal any injury by drawing spilled blood and guts back into their body, and regenerating destroyed body parts. The more experienced ones also have perfect control over their body, allowing a limited, squicky form of Voluntary Shapeshifting.
  • Dr. Cherijo Torin of the Star Doc novels is this way, thanks to the interference of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens in the process that created her. She even survives a point-blank gunshot wound to the head, although her memories and thus personality are severely altered by the event.
  • Star Wars Legends: Galaxy of Fear has Eppon, who can instantly re-form an arm that was severed. Presumably it gets the mass from the same place where it stuffs the people it eats.
  • Several characters in Super Minion have regeneration as a superpower. Additionally, basically all mutants have the ability to eventually recover from any injury to their mutated parts.
  • Talion: Revenant: Having rhasa souls in your body allows a person to use them for this.
  • Tempus from Thieves' World has a healing factor that was given to him by his patron god Vashanka. However, as this is Thieves' World and Vashanka is the sister-raping, brother-killing, mage-hating, generally nasty Rankan war-god, there's obviously going to be a catch. In this case, Tempus heals from anything that doesn't kill him at about the normal human healing rate. This is particularly crap when he gets all his limbs and his tongue cut off by a serial killer who doesn't realise he's damn near immortal.
  • Trolls in Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions regenerate unless damaged by fire. This is likely the origin of this concept for trollish regeneration that was later adopted by Dungeons and Dragons.
  • The Specials in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series have Nanomachines in their blood that allow them to heal quickly.
  • In Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon series, Ukiah heals much faster and more completely than a human, even if he's killed, although fire will prevent this, as will some poisons. The same is true for the Pack, but moreso, while the Ontongard can put themselves back together in seconds from a shotgun blast to the face.
  • In Vampire Academy, Strigoi heal from serious injuries minutes after receiving them. Rose estimated that it would take five minutes for Dimitri to recover from a wooden stake piercing his heart.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles, vampires have incredible healing powers. Most wounds (such as a gunshot) heal within seconds. A severed body part can simply be held back at its proper place and it will reattach. It is indicated that the only real way to kill a vampire is to incinerate them and scatter the ashes. Otherwise, it might take centuries, but they will eventually heal. This process can be accelerated by blood of another vampire, especially if they are older and more powerful.
  • The Father of Titans from the Warhammer 40,000 Grey Knights novel Dark Adeptus has one that allows for real-time regeneration of fairly severe damage, though not direct, explosive core sabotage. The Grey Knights themselves, as Super Soldiers, have a better-than-human regeneration, though they still need an apothecary for severe stuff.
  • Billy "Carnifex" Ray from the Wild Cards series of novels is a slight subversion; he has one that acts as the biological equivalent of "meatball surgery". It will save his life and restore practical functionality, but repeated injuries have left him somewhat misshapen (e.g. a broken nose healing while still bent out of place).
    • Demise has the sort that just keeps bringing him Back from the Dead.
    • The Mechanic's healing factor required him to be in contact with a machine.
    • Stuntman's healing factor regrows the damaged tissue violently, leaving him disoriented and very hungry.
  • Anyanwu from Octavia Butler's ''Wild Seed'' is a shapeshifter with an impressive healing factor; she can only be killed by something that would kill her instantly (presumably, decapitation or the like).
  • The Witchlands: Aeduan can heal shredded bones, keep walking after turning into a Human Pincushion, live on with his heart pierced and otherwise survive and heal wounds that no normal man could, thanks to his Bloodwitchery.
  • Vampires in Women of the Otherworld are like this. Their only special power is incredible healing. At one point, one vampire who had her throat cut is able to walk and talk a few minutes later.
  • Jordan the Barbarian from the Xanth books has regeneration as his magical talent, allowing him to recover from anything (anything) up to and including death... so long as his body parts are fairly close to each other. However, after being reunited with himself at the end of a 400-year period of being sliced up and scattered, he did need a lot of food to fully recover.


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